Alcoholism a Social Problem?

Topics: Alcoholism, Alcohol, Alcoholic beverage Pages: 5 (1593 words) Published: June 23, 2010
The Social Problem
The social problem that was identified in the helping relationship is a return to alcohol use or relapse. The participant in the helping project admitted she had been in substance abuse treatment twice, but was unable to remain abstinent from alcohol use. This, according to her is a relapse, however, Miller (1996) identifies relapse as a return to alcohol and/or drug dependent behavior in a person who has previously achieved and maintained abstinence for a significant period of time beyond withdrawal. Unfortunately, the participant was unable to remain abstinent for any significant period of time, therefore does not meet the definition of relapse. Hence, we will discuss relapse, but the core social problem and primary focus of this assignment is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Society assumes relapses is an isolated event, but Marlatt and Gordon (1985) imply that it is a process that begins when an individual becomes unable to cope with life in sobriety and can no longer avoid using alcohol or other drugs. This process is often preceded by warning signs that start well before the person actually drinks alcohol or uses drugs. Gorski and Miller (1982) identified that there are 11 warning signs that lead to relapse, such as: the return of denial, defensiveness, irritability or restlessness, anxiety or depression. These emotions can lead to behaviors such as seeking out people with whom they used alcohol or other drugs, visiting places where alcohol is sold, and participating in activities that previously involved alcohol or drug use. Relapse, as a social problem, would be a debatable if people drank alcohol in a responsible manner, however according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2002), more than half of the adult U.S. population drank alcohol in the past 30 days. Interestingly, approximately 5% of the total population drank heavily, while 15% of the population binge drank. From 2001–2005, there were nearly 80,000 deaths annually caused by excessive alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for people in the United States each year. History of Society and Alcohol in America

America has a long and embattled relationship with alcohol. Even the Colonials drank alcohol in almost every settlement. Due the possibility of alcohol abuse, the commonwealth of Virginia enacted the first law in 1619. This law was not against the use of alcohol, but against drunkenness. In fact, the society of that time was less concerned with drinking alcoholic beverages, as they were with the effect of drunkenness on one’s ability to care for their children, perform their duties and report for work. Alcohol served several purposes during the Civil War. It was used as an anesthesia, because it was less expensive and easier to acquire. The medics also used it to prevent infections, and cure illnesses. Alcohol was favored as a drink among officers and also rationed out to soldiers as a form of liquid courage. ( During the 19th and early 20th centuries there was a loud cry for moral reform and against alcohol; the temperance movement answered. The liquor trade became as important to eliminate as slavery Murdach (2009). Literature of that time demonized alcohol abuse and determined that it "destroys the sense of decency and honor, silences conscience and deadens the best instincts of the human heart." [Furthermore, wherever] "it touches human life it leaves the awful shadows of disease, crime, poverty, shame, wretchedness, and sorrow" Timberlake (1970, p. 6), (as cited in Murdach, 2009). The aftermath of this moral outcry was the beginning of the Temperance movement. Founded in 1826, the American Temperance Society’s function was to abolish alcohol use completely. Its members believed that drinking alcohol was not only an immoral and sinful practice, but...

References: Ferentzy, P. (2001). From sin to disease: difference and similarities between past and current conceptions of chronic drunkenness. Contemporary Drug Problems, 28(3), 363, Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database.
Miller, J. R. & Ketcham, K (1983). Under the Influence: A guide to the myths an realities of alcoholism, New York, NY: Bantam Books
Miller, W., & Harris, R. (2000). A Simple Scale of Gorski 's Warning Signs for Relapse, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61(5), 759, Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database.
Murdach, A. (2009). The Temperance Movement and Social Work. Social Work, 54(1), 56-62, Retrieved from Academic Search Elite database Alcohol - Historical Background Of Alcohol In The United States
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